Q. More than 20 years ago I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Tests revealed no cause. Diarrhea attacks accompanied by severe abdominal pain rarely gave me time to find a bathroom before it was too late. I would suffer several times a week.
At 6′ 2″ I weighed only 147lbs and could not gain weight even eating 5000 calories a day. Imodium A-D daily provided minimal help.
Ten months ago I read in your column about a man with Crohn’s disease who had been helped by eating two Archway Coconut Macaroons daily. I had nothing to lose so I gave it a try. IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE!
In these past ten months I have had only a few mild attacks, none involving pain. Even the worst of these was milder than a good day before. I stopped carrying a change of clothes in my car, as I haven’t needed them once.
Twenty years of suffering and all I needed to do was eat cookies! There is not one medication on the market that can boast fewer side effects. My weight is now stable at 180 lbs, ideal for my height.

A. Many people are grateful to Donald Agar for sharing his discovery of the anti-diarrhea benefits of coconut macaroons. We believe the essential ingredient is the coconut, since several readers have reported benefit with coconut alone.
This approach won’t work for everyone, but we are surprised how many people seem to respond well. One young man even reported that coconut-containing candy bars (Mounds) helped his antibiotic-induced diarrhea.

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  1. MDF
    Reply

    One reason eating lots of coconut is not connected with heart attacks in India is because, according to two doctors in a documentary called Forks Over Knives, eating veggies instead of meat will clean out your arteries, but eating meat damages cells in the lining of the arteries that ultimately leads to clogged arteries, not saturated fat or cholesterol by themselves.

  2. RES
    Reply

    I have been using coconut macaroons to control diarrhea and it has worked —BUT my primary doctor who is also a Cardiologist said that coconut raises cholesterol and can cause plaque in the arteries.
    Any comments on that????
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THIS IS CONTROVERSIAL. IN INDIA, WHERE IT IS A COMMONLY USED COOKING INGREDIENT, CONSUMPTION OF COCONUT DOES NOT SEEM TO BE LINKED TO INCREASED RISK OF HEART ATTACK.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9316363?dopt=Abstract

  3. cpmt
    Reply

    ALSO the spice “cumin” is good for diarrhea (that is what some people in the Mediterranean area use.)

  4. SueK
    Reply

    Funny–I just bought some unsweetened sliced coconut pieces at the store just to eat because I like coconut (very cheap, too–1.47 for 1/2 lb). I have diverticulosis/itis and it sounds like probably it will help me with that…

  5. john n.
    Reply

    I find this interesting, since I was advised by my doctor to avoid anything with COCONUT in it. Traditionally, coconut is usually hard to digest. I guess if it works for some people fine. John, Naples, Florida

  6. PP
    Reply

    If you look at the ingredients for anti-diarrheals in the drug store, it includes coconut. I sprinkle a little on my cereal every morning as a preventative for my IBS.
    For those taking antibiotics, coconut and probiotics, in yogurt, cottage cheese or as a supplement, are all helpful.

  7. jpt
    Reply

    We will be traveling soon and sometimes you eat some thing which does not suit you and you get kind of diarrhea, will macaroons or coconut will help? We usually take Imodium with us but would prefer not to take it.

  8. E H
    Reply

    Would love to have your recipe if it works as well as the Archway cookies. Maybe it is cheaper to make. Thanks

  9. M.A.
    Reply

    Helpful information. Regarding coconut: I keep my cholesterol measures down with diet. Would coconut oil (cold pressed, no cholesterol) work?

  10. dp
    Reply

    Found out about coconut from you all at least 15 years ago. Always kept the archway macaroons on hand. When they couldn’t be found, I switched to unsweetened coconut from the health food store, just a small dish of it worked. On trips, Mounds bars along with pepto bismol would save the day. Terry and Joe, you have really made life better for me with many, many healthier ways of dealing with problems than drugs whose side effects are an anathema to me.

  11. J.B.
    Reply

    What great information! It doesn’t surprise me, coconut is believed to have antibacterial and strong anti-viral properties, and science is finding out a lot about the effects of the wrong kind of bacteria in the gut, as well as lingering viruses in the intestines. Throw some regular probiotics on top of the macaroons and one might have an excellent combination.
    We are currently using coconut oil topically to treat a skin infection called molluscum, which is viral in origin and known to be very stubborn. The coconut oil is working wonderfully so far. I’m anxious to find out if it completely gets rid of it instead of having to use pharmaceuticals.

  12. CAH
    Reply

    Coconut macroons are very easy to make, too, if the store item is not available.
    Will be happy to post the recipe if the Archway Cookies are not widely available.

  13. Jj
    Reply

    The coconut works, but I have also found that Activia Yogurt is a miracle. It could be that other brands work as well, but I have been having Activia in the morning, and I am now able to travel with ease. It has literally changed my life.

  14. Paul 43
    Reply

    I would like to hear more about this please.

  15. Chuck
    Reply

    Regarding the coconut cookies, if the active ingredient is coconut, I wonder if coconut oil would also be effective. If so, then you wouldn’t have the extra sugar content of cookies to deal with.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: WE KNOW THAT PLAIN UNSWEETENED COCONUT HELPS SOME PEOPLE. WE DON’T HAVE REPORTS ON COCONUT OIL.

  16. R H Hardy
    Reply

    These macaroons really DO make a difference. Several years ago I was visiting a sick friend & she shared with me she had gotten so dehydrated from excessive diarrhea over several days & nothing worked to stop it. She was so worried that she would have to be hospitalized.
    I left her, popped home & returned with some of Archway’s Coconut Macaroons from my freezer & related how they were amazing in stopping many people from severe diarrhea. She smiled wanly, dutifully munched down 2 little macaroons & I left. She called me several hours later extolling the virtues of those little macaroons stating she accepted my macaroons & explanation with real disbelief. She stated that ended her bout… no further problems & she was an astonished believer.
    One problem… when I went to purchase some more Archway macaroons to store in my freezer, they were gone from grocers. Finally I talked with a manager & he said the company no longer made them. Am not sure if Archway is a company that fell by the way, or just that item, but have not seen them reappear so if others are looking for them, good luck! In the meantime I keep mine in the freezer & if they’re used up, will certainly go for the coconut by itself & hope it will work as well!
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THE ARCHWAY COMPANY WENT THROUGH HARD TIMES BUT HAS BEEN ACQUIRED BY ANOTHER BAKER. THE COOKIES SHOULD BE BACK ON SHELVES; IF NOT, THERE ARE OTHER COCONUT MACAROONS. AS YOU SUGGEST, PLAIN COCONUT ALSO WORKS AND IS READILY AVAILABLE.

  17. Lou G
    Reply

    This is interesting. As one who suffers from from upset stomach and diarrhea with antibiotics, I’m going to try these next time I’m prescribed an antibiotic. I already eat them, but mostly as a dessert at night. They are addictive!

  18. Susan
    Reply

    I see many many email testimonies on how coconut macaroon cookies cure diarrhea. I take issue with this because you are treating the symptoms and not the cause. Frequent diarrhea to where you have to eat cookies every day, just isn’t normal.
    What about recommending that the sufferers see a doctor and know exactly what is causing the diarrhea? Make sure they have been tested for Crohn’s or Celiac or IBS to make sure that if they have a serious medical problem that they are being properly treated for the condition.
    90% of the Celiacs in this country are not diagnosed. I am almost certain that my mother was an undiagnosed Celiac. She was always taking over the counter diarrhea medicine to cure the symptoms, but it didn’t help the underlying problem. The deprivation of nutrients due to Celiac Disease ultimately led to early onset Alzheimer’s and non-smoker’s lung cancer.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: SUSAN, WE COMPLETELY AGREE THAT CHRONIC DIARRHEA CALLS FOR A DIAGNOSIS. BUT ONCE PEOPLE GET A DIAGNOSIS SUCH AS IBS, FOR EXAMPLE, THEY OFTEN WELCOME SYMPTOMATIC RELIEF. BOTH ARE NEEDED.

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